"Quorum sensing" (QS) is the phenomenon which allows single bacterial cells to measure the concentration of bacterial signal molecules. Two principle different QS systems are known, the Autoinducer 1 system (AI-1) for the intraspecies communication using different Acyl-homoserine lactones (AHL) and AI-2 for the interspecies communication.
Aim of this study was to investigate QS of Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (Mutaflor). While E. coli Nissle is producing AI-2 in a density dependent manner, no AI-1 was produced. To study the effect of AI-2 in the DSS (dextran sulphate sodium) induced mouse model of acute colitis, authors silenced the corresponding gene luxS by intron insertion. The mutant bacterium E. coli Nissle::luxS was equally effective in colonizing the colon and the mutation turned out to be 100% stable during the course of the experiment. Isolating RNA from the colon mucosa and performing semiquantitative RT PCR, researchers were able to show that the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IFN-y was suppressed in mice being infected with the Nissle wild type. Mice infected with Nissle::luxS showed a suppressed expression of IL-10 compared to uninfected mice, while the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha was higher in these mice. The expression of mBD-1 was suppressed in mice being infected with the mutant in comparison to the mice not infected or infected with the Nissle wild type. No differences were seen in the histological examination of the colon sections in the different groups of mice.
Nissle is producing AI-2 molecules, which are influencing the expression of cytokines in the mucosa of the colon in the DSS mice. However, if QS has a direct influence on the probiotic properties of Nissle remains to be elucidated.